Blog by Irfan Toni Herlambang | Also available in Indonesian
Despite repeated and continuous criticisms and protests from academics, religious leaders, Indigenous Peoples, students, workers and activists, the Indonesian government and the DPR (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or House of Representatives) pursued passing the Job Creation Bill.
On Monday, 5 October 2020, the nearly 1000-page law was approved by the DPR, three days ahead of schedule. The controversial law, often referred to as the Omnibus Law, bypasses 79 laws and spreads a red carpet for foreign investments—threatening to harm workers’ and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and potentially exacerbating environmental disasters.
This is an alarm signal to the Earth, a steroid to accelerate the climate crisis if you will. This law will open up space for natural exploitation to the widest possible extent, without any clear control or restrictions.
A handful of elites in the parliament control and determine the future of hundreds of millions of Indonesians, letting injustice continue and ignoring the welfare of the people by keeping up with profit growth. These people stand on the wrong side of history.
The process of making this law raises a number of questions. Contrary to the DPR’s habits of being slow and unproductive, this law was drafted in a haste. DPR members work around the clock, including weekends, to speed up discussion of thousands of articles.
Until the end of the deliberation period, debates continued because there was never enough time to discuss the compilation of the 79 laws containing a total of more than 1200 articles. The meeting to discuss the DPR with 31 ministries and institutions was held in a number of luxury hotels, with costs from unclear sources.
The pandemic situation in Indonesia—with 300,000 cases and an increase of up to 4,000 daily cases—has not made the DPR hold their lust to finalise this law. Even when there were dozens of members of the drafting team, consisting of 127 people with business backgrounds, some were affected by COVID-19, the deliberation pursued.
The principle of representation also wasn’t applied, because the DPR has 575 members, but the plenary session was attended by just 318 people. Many of them were unable to access the latest documents, which resulted in their lack of understanding of the subject matter.
The enactment of this law also means robbing our younger generation of a better future. They may have no idea what a sustainable Earth looks like or how priceless natural resources are. Ten years from now, if we don’t act urgently, it is possible that the climate crisis has worsened and everyone’s choking on pollution.
We couldn’t imagine what a blue sky or green rainforests of Indonesia would look like. No more memories about nature would be left. Mother Earth is being stabbed repeatedly through the Omnibus Law.
The urge to overturn draconian laws like this will remain. We continue to echo our solidarity with thousands of people marching against it. The government and people’s representatives must retract their decisions immediately. They should make regulations that prioritize handling the pandemic through just recovery principles, and focus on efforts for health and the welfare of the people, not of big businesses.
Legislators should go through the same urgency to act on the climate crisis instead of opening the door widely for further exploitation of nature.
The President and the House of Representatives should listen to the people and stand on the right side of history.
(Illustration cover @mc.aminrais)